Clarke Quay

Singapore’s heritage often brings the impression of places like Chinatown and Little India, while Clarke Quay is hardly mentioned. Being along the Singapore River, it’s modern and upbeat setting is amplified especially during the evenings at sundown.

Photo from: ’’

Clarke Quay was quite the cornerstone of Singapore’s history, here has always been a place of consistent activity, the past was no exception. Sampan boats were always coming and going, with coolies always loading and unloading goods from their boats onto one of the world’s busiest ports. The shop-houses today that houses restaurants, pubs and bars used to be godowns (warehouses) for these goods.

Over the years, our economy progressed significantly and the government finally budgeted the cleaning of the Singapore River. Coupled with the technological advancements of our time, the shophouses of Clarke Quay have also been renovated, while preserving it’s look.

For most people, Clarke Quay is known for its nightlife. The pubs and bars here are popular hangout spots for both tourists and locals at night. Upon entering Clarke Quay, one can immediately feel the difference in the pace of life. The atmosphere here is much more laid back, compared to other parts of Singapore.

"More Vodka, More Music" “More Vodka, More Music”

We often preach about how the purpose of this blog is to arouse the interest of our local youths of the Singaporean heritage, we decided to do something a little special this time - to bring our classmate, Duncan, around and get his direct perspective as a person who is not doing this for an assignment.

Duncan mentioned to us that he felt Clarke Quay was not a place with much Singapore heritage. When asked why, he said he observed that the majority of the people who come to Clarke Quay were mainly there to enjoy the nightlife. However though, he also pointed out that the shop-houses here are quite unique and different from other shop-houses in Singapore.

Clarke Quay presented us with stunning scenery - but we were frankly quite impressed by how most of it’s unique elements have been modeled, like the shophouses and the sampans. It almost seems as if we are embracing some of the old traditions in Singapore at Clarke Quay. Despite Clarke Quay’s embrace of the new, she is still able to attract so many tourists and locals daily.

A question kept ringing at me, how does Clarke Quay maintain the feeling of nostalgia but not feel old or outdated?

The answer was simple: Clarke Quay adapted. The incorporation of the old together with new has been beautifully integrated that they met halfway. It progressed in so many great ways but maintained it’s pure, virgin soul.

After we bade farewell, I felt a reluctance to leave early so I took a long walk along the river bank. Our modern city skyline is symbolic of how far we’ve come as a fishing village. The beautiful city that I live in is growing more than ever and is bound to the effects of capitalism and globalization; but it is important that as it’s citizens we never forget the nucleus of our culture.

If you feel a hint of regret for throwing away your old Social Studies textbook after reading this post, perhaps I have succeeded in igniting a part of our nucleus.

— Hui Ren